I haven’t said a lot on this blog about our trip to China just yet. We went in 2012, and I’m still processing the experience.
Just yesterday I was talking with a co-worker about it. He was telling me how his brother goes to places that he complains about the entire time he’s there… but when he gets home, he realizes he just loved it so much, can’t wait to go back.
This reminded me of my experience with China.
I am a child of the cold, barren Canadian prairie province of Manitoba, and in many ways I reflect this place. Like our empty, snow-covered fields, I too am frigid, overly-pale, and require much space.
China is kind of the exact opposite. It is hot. It is lush. It’s full of people. And you pretty much just have to dive right in.
I found it really hard to take. Andrew says I pretty much was upset the entire time we were there.
“That’s not true!” I retort. “I loved China! Absolutely loved it! Can’t wait to go back!”
And it’s true. That’s all true. So why was I exhibiting my finest bitch-face the entire time we were there? (Except when we were eating, of course — then I light right up like a glow-worm, but that’s another post for another day.)
I think that just because there were a lot of external factors that make me personally uncomfortable, there’s something about a place that pushes back and makes you adjust your expectations and preferences, something that just makes you love it more.
Andrew scheduled our first stop to be Hong Kong. It was under British rule for 156 years, which concluded in 1997. Because of this, much (if not all) the signage in Hong Kong is also in English, and basically everyone speaks English, so it’s a great first stop when visiting China. I should probably add that the majority of Hongkongers don’t necessarily consider themselves to be Chinese. I would imagine this has much to do with the fact that being under British rule for all those years caused Hong Kong to develop differently than mainland China. Something else about Hong Kong — they have a massive fireworks display in Victoria Harbour on July 1st, celebrating the transfer of power back to China.
As Andrew and I were arriving in Hong Kong, we realized we could possibly see this fantastic fireworks display!
Straight from the airport, we took a train into the heart of Hong Kong. We followed a rushing flood of people. We were still towing our suitcases, but there was no time to drop them off — first we must try to see this fireworks display! Imagine how spectacular it will be, over the stunning harbour! I was becoming frenetic about this.
Somehow we found ourselves in a mall. But not just any mall. This was a massive, downtown Hong Kong mall.
I can barely handle myself in Steinbach’s Clearspring Centre during Sidewalk Sale Days, so you can probably imagine this situation was making me crazy. But also, I love fireworks.
“Hurry honey! This way!” I barked, leading Andrew thither and yon through the pulsating crowds, our luggage in tow.
By some strange miracle, we finally emerged out of the behemoth of a mall. And what did we encounter?
The smell of gunpowder, and construction.
Well, that was not at all what I had been expecting. Looking back, I just have to laugh. But at the time, I was pissed.
I guess there’s something to be learned from this. First of all, check your expectations. Second of all… what’s initially really irritating, can ultimately be kind of weirdly hilarious.